Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bantayan Island, Cebu

This post about our trip to Bantayan was first published in my friendster blog:

Bantayan Island is a hidden paradise off the northwest coast of Cebu. To go there, one may take the bus ride bound for Hagnaya at the Northbound Bus Terminal of Cebu City. Malou and I are lucky to catch the Ceres bus about to leave shortly before 7 am. We were able to situate ourselves on the first two front seats and get a clear view of the places as the bus passes through Mandaue City, Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, Danao City, Carmen, Catmon, Sogod and Bogo.
Covering a distance of 110 kilometers, the bus fare surprisingly costs only P50.00. A travel of the same distance in Bukidnon would have cost double. The refreshing scenery combines coastal and mountain roads as well as commercial, industrial and agricultural areas. The trip was long but with my iPod Nano blasting music in my ears, it seems like a breeze. One would get an almost surreal feeling staring at the seas of some coastal towns while listening to Dream Theater’s Hollow Years…carry me to the shoreline/bury me in the sand /walk me across the water/and maybe you’ll understand….

We arrived at the wharf of Hagnaya (a part of the San Remegio town) at 10:00 am and purchased the Super Shuttle ferry tickets at P134.50 (plus 5 pesos terminal fee) per person. The ferry, scheduled to leave at 10:30 am, departed at 11. From the ferry, one could view the coastlines of Cebu’s northernmost parts and an island that seems to look uninhabited. More than one hour later, Bantayan Island became more visible with its vast stretch of fine white sand beaches and crystal-clear blue and greenish sea water.

The island is comprised of three municipalities–Sta. Fe, Bantayan and Madrilejos. The wharf, located at Sta. Fe, is sandwiched within the town’s magnificent beaches and fishermen’s villages. We made our reservations at the Saint Bernard Beach Resort and Sta. Fe Beach Club. A few minutes trisikad ride from the pier, Saint Bernard is a small resort with only 9 cottages (8 of which are uniquely round-shaped), surrounded with colorful flowers and some exotic birds in cages. It has a restaurant with some tables and chairs positioned near the beachfront for open-air dining. Located away from the town center, the beach provides a calm and intimate atmosphere, perfect for relaxation and soul detoxification. The neighboring islands of Hilantaga-an and Silion (also called Virgin Island) is clearly seen at the resort’s beachfront. The Sta. Fe Beach Club on the other hand only walking distance from the pier. It is a more upscale resort with a hotel, a restaurant, large cottages, water sports facilities and beach huts lined along the powdery white sands.

Sta. Fe Beach Club


Saint Bernard Beach Resort

Transportation in the island is available through trisikad, tricycles and a few multicabs. The trisikad fare is very pricey though, pegged at a minimum of P20.00 per person even for short distance commuting. However, plenty of motorbikes are available for rent to tourists. We were able to rent one at only P50.00/hour. We used it to go to the nearby Bantayan Town, which is more or less 10 kilometers away from Sta, Fe. The national highway is paved all throughout and we passed along some poultry layer farms. The island produces about 1.5 million table eggs a day, supplying the demands of mainland Cebu, Negros, Panay and even Leyte.

Bantyan town is more urbanized than Santa Fe, with more commercial establishments. I spotted an internet café and an Allied Bank branch near the plaza though I am not sure if it has an ATM machine. The town’s landmark is the Saints Peter and Paul Church which is already more than 400 years old.

This is me standing outside the Saints Peter& Paul Church in Bantayan town.

With the motorbike, we were also able to tour Sta. Fe ’s other resorts. The Ogtong Cave (also owned by the Sta. Beach Club) located at is probably the island’s most extensively-developed resort. Aside from the beach it has an underground cave with a natural pool for swimming, two swimming pools (one is for walk-in guests and the other is exclusive for those who booked their accommodations at the resort) and large deluxe villas and cottages. The Kota Beach Resort is another magnificently enchanting white-sand resort located amidst the coconut trees. Though only walking distance from nearby resorts (Marlin’s, Budyong and Sugar Beach) and the town center, the beach remained secluded and unspoiled.

Ogtong Cave Resort


Kota Beach Resort


Mouthwatering food and refreshing drinks are served at the resorts but are really expensive with prices that are comparable to those restaurants found in Boracay. However, inexpensive meals are available at some eatery and barbeque stands neat the pier and the town market. A few meters from the market are the restobars which I believed are owned by some foreigners who already settled in the island. We went inside a bar named Hard Kock Café (hahaha!) and ordered draft beer and french fries. Aside from the foreigners drinking outside, we were the only customers of the bar during that time.

Whether frolicking on its crystal clear waters and white sand beaches at daytime or just savoring the seaside breeze at night, Bantayan Island has plenty to offer for the weary souls. It may lack the amenities and the vibrant nightlife of Boracay but Bantayan’s charm lies on the island’s quiet, simple and unsaturated beauty.

Bantayan Sunrise

9 comments :

  1. Ano mas maganda Boracay o Cebu?

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  2. Boracay's beaches are the best but if you prefer quiet and relaxing resorts that are not overcrowded then you can try Bantayan Island of Cebu.

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  3. I am definitely going here!!! Btw, can a van/car fit into a ferry boat from Hagnaya pier to Bantayan Isl.?

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  4. yup, if you want, you can bring your car to the island for more convenience. If you want a little adventure, you can opt to leave your car in Hagnaya pier, rent motorcycle once you're in Bantayan and have fun exploring the island.

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  5. Wow, what a beautiful sunset. There so many island in philippines but i liked is boracay, there a good atmosphere there, especially in nightlife.



    Tanya Gemarin

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  6. hello.... i'm from Indonesia... nice to read your posts. btw, i have followed this blog using google friend connect. hope u do the same.

    Thanks!

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  7. @sense of blogging: sure! but i am still clueless about google friend connect.can you teach me how to do it?thanks!

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  8. Nice blog. Thanks for visiting Bantayan Island and for mentioning the twin islets -- Hilantaga-an Daku and Diot (Virgin island). Virgin Island or always cited as Sillon is originally named as Hilantaga-an Diot.

    Damo gyud nga salamat, amigo.

    Marcial

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  9. i love bantayan a lot... love the fact that it's not too commercialized yet. hope i could go back there soon :)

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